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Buring, Theodor Gustav Hermann (1846–1919)

by Jean V. Moyle

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Theodor Gustav Hermann Buring (1846?-1919), store-keeper and vigneron, was born in Berlin, son of Friedrich Adolph Buring and his wife Caroline Henriette Auguste. He arrived in South Australia with his parents in the Princess Louise from Hamburg in August 1849. In Adelaide his father set up a brass-founding business with Ernst Fischer but died on 3 December 1856 at 40. Hermann and his brother Heinrich Franz Rudolph, later a well-known Adelaide tobacconist, were educated at R. C. Mitton and J. C. Hansen's school at Pulteney Street, Adelaide. Hermann, who early showed marked business ability, was then sent to the country where he worked as a store-keeper for nine years and for three in a distillery at Seppeltsfield in the Barossa valley. After his marriage to Lina Dohrenwendt on 22 April 1871 he opened a store in Friedrichswalde (Tarnma) near Kapunda. For nine years he was agent there for Spring Vale wines which from 1869 were managed by his brother-in-law Carl Sobels.

In 1879 Hermann moved to Kent Town, Adelaide, opened a business in Pirie Street and continued as agent for Spring Vale wines. In 1889 he and Sobels formed a partnership to buy the Spring Vale property of 117 acres (47 ha), with its cellars, casks and wines, from James Richman who had inherited it from his uncle Sir Walter Hughes. They also rented 50 acres (20 ha) of vineyards at Leasingham, two miles (3.2 km) south of Spring Vale, at £1 a year, and grassland at 4s. an acre. Hermann concentrated exclusively on the sale and distribution of the wines. He moved to the basement of Alfred Chambers in Currie Street and in 1897 to larger offices in Unity Chambers behind the Bank of Adelaide. The name Quellthaler (later Quelltaler) was chosen as the firm's trademark. Hermann was elected president of the Wine Growers' Association in 1896 and was also a member of the wine committee of the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia. He was on the provisional board to administer the Phylloxera Act of 1899. In 1910 he and Sobels registered their partnership under the name of H. Buring & Sobels Ltd. Buring died on 8 September 1919 at his home in Kent Town, survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters. He left an estate worth £5000.

The elder son, Adolph Wilhelm Rudolph (Rudi), was born on 4 February 1872 at Friedrichswalde, educated at Way College and Prince Alfred College and spent some years in the Adelaide firm of H. Muecke & Co., shipping agents. He became secretary and director of his father's firm in 1910 and was managing director in 1934-50. Rudi had much artistic skill and was often asked by both government and Parliament House authorities to illuminate documents. He designed all the bottle labels for Quelltaler wines and created a number of monograms and seals, including one for the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia. He established a trust fund for an annual prize to be presented to the top student in third year practical horticulture at Roseworthy Agricultural College and also established the Rudi Buring memorial scholarship for a Roseworthy student to study overseas. He married Grace Agnes Rossiter on 14 December 1898 and, after her death, Hattie Stella Dewhirst on 7 December 1940. There were no children of either marriage. He died in Adelaide on 28 May 1950. Rudi Buring was known for his thoroughness, his warm friendliness and his punctilious observance of the customs of wine drinking.

His younger brother Hermann Paul Leopold (Leo) was born on 7 October 1876 at Friedrichswalde and educated at Prince Alfred College in 1883-94. After two years at Roseworthy Agricultural College he went to Europe, where he attended viticulture colleges at Geisenheim on the Rhine in 1896-97 and Montpellier, France, in 1898. He returned to South Australia to become cellarman at Spring Vale in June 1898. He managed the Alex Prentice wine cellars at Rutherglen in Victoria in 1900, the Hans Irvine wine cellars, Great Western, Victoria, in 1901 and the Minchinbury wine cellars at Rooty Hill, New South Wales, in 1902-19. At Minchinbury he persuaded James Angus to embark on the production of sparkling wines, which were successfully launched on the market six years later. He acted as technical adviser to various Australian wineries in 1919-23 and was governing director of Lindeman Ltd in 1923-30. In 1931 he set up his own business, Leo Buring Pty Ltd. He was a director of H. Buring & Sobels Ltd in 1934-60. His great interest was the promotion of Australian wines. He established 'Ye Old Crusty Cellar' in George Street, Sydney, where special vintages were stored in casks and bottles and where many distinguished guests were entertained. He was a life member and honorary vice-president of the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales in 1926, a member of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Wine Producers' Association and the Chamber of Commerce. He was a councillor of the Blue Mountains Shire in 1937-44 and a life governor of Sydney Hospital after 1953. He was president of the Federal Viticultural Council in 1931 and represented New South Wales and Queensland on the Australian Wine Overseas Marketing Board in 1929-36. He was honorary treasurer of the International Society of Australia. His Australian Wines was published in Sydney in 1931. Like his brother he established a trust fund for a gold medal to be presented each year to the dux of the diploma of oenology at Roseworthy College. His one hobby was gardening on a grand scale; he grew winter-flowering roses and asparagus among other things as commercial ventures. He married Ida Agatha Sobels on 21 May 1902; they had no children. He died on 29 September 1961 at Penrith, New South Wales.

Select Bibliography

  • E. Whitington, The South Australian Vintage 1903 (Register reprint, Adelaide)
  • H. T. Burgess (ed), Cyclopedia of South Australia, vol 2 (Adel, 1909)
  • ‘Leo Buring, Australia's wine expert’, Home, Dec 1931
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 10 Sept 1919
  • Register (Adelaide), 11 Sept 1919.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Jean V. Moyle, 'Buring, Theodor Gustav Hermann (1846–1919)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/buring-theodor-gustav-hermann-3115/text4631, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 25 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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